The recent release of the United Nations IPCC report on climate change has caused widespread anxiety, with headlines claiming a ‘code red for humanity’. While it is a much-needed wake-up call, the IPCC says, ‘The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate.’ We are in a climate emergency, but we have not lost. What we’re facing now is an unprecedented opportunity to change our world for the better.
Discussions about saving the planet often include two unhelpful assumptions. First, that an eco-friendly lifestyle is expensive, difficult and one of joyless self-restraint. The other is a belief that the actions of ordinary people have such minimal impact that they’re not worth doing. Through my books, the first of which published in 2015, I have debunked both of those myths.
How do we – as individuals, families, schools and workplaces – produce significant change? You can massively reduce your impact on the planet even if you don’t eat organic meals and live in an eco-home next to a public transport hub. Conscious consumerism can be incredibly powerful and encourage far more rapid change.
The first step is learning the impacts of our everyday choices. Take greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as an example. Many of the things we associate with reducing our footprint, such as turning off lights or drying our clothes on the washing line, aren’t major factors in our footprints. While positive, they are a drop in the ocean compared to our indirect emissions – the GHGs emitted in creating the foods, textiles and other products we consume.
The difference everyday choices make is substantial. For example, swapping out one high-impact meal twice a week for a year saves the equivalent emissions of driving from Melbourne to Townsville and back in a large 4WD. Add to this the collateral benefits of living more sustainably and it truly is an amazing opportunity.
This is where my sustainability series Make the future! can help. I designed the Make the future! books around this quote from the Australian Government’s Sustainability Curriculum framework:
Sustainability is about reducing our ecological footprint while simultaneously improving the quality of life that we value – the ‘liveability’ of our society.
The focus is on making choices that help us and the environment. When we choose products that use fewer resources, they reduce our impact on the planet while also saving us money. When we are mindful of our cooking, we can create healthier and far more eco-friendly versions of our favourite foods. By learning to upcycle, mend and buy second-hand, we not only cut down our damage to the environment but also gain the chance to express ourselves with customised gear that we’ll value more. In the Make the future! series I share simple – and enjoyable! – ways to make these choices to cut down emissions and reduce our footprint.
I’ll be posting tips and extracts from my series regularly on my website and social media, so please check back soon to find out how you can make the future better for our world and for yourself.